Poker Coverage:

Final Table Takedown: Arthur Morris Captures WSOP Circuit Title In Tulsa

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Nov 16, 2022

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Arthur Morris has been a professional poker player for the last 17 years, primarily focusing on cash games. Although he doesn’t play many tournaments, he has managed to make several deep runs over the years and racked up nearly $1 million on the live circuit.

He made three final tables at the World Series of Poker, including the 2021 $10,000 pot-limit Omaha championship event. Morris also has two World Poker Tour final tables, his first coming back in the 2012 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic and the other earlier this year at WPT Choctaw.

Still, a major live tournament title eluded him. That all changed in late August when the Dallas resident traveled north to Tulsa for the World Series of Poker Circuit main event and topped a field of 646 for his first ring and the $182,379 first-place prize.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Morris admitted to reporters. “I’ve been playing for 17 years so it feels really good.”

Card Player caught up with Morris to talk about a few key hands that he played en route to victory.

Craig Tapscott: What inspired you to travel over to Tulsa to play in this event?

Arthur Morris: My wife and son had just been invited to go down to Sea World, and a regular player in my local game had invited me up to play a semi-private PLO game in Tulsa during the main event. I decided to go mostly for the cash games, but figured I’d flick in a few bullets in the main as well. 

My first three bullets I likely only played a combined five levels. I never had any traction. However, the fourth bullet was smooth sailing. Day one I had almost zero variance, just slowly chipping up and applying a ton of pressure on the bubble which led me to finish the day with 306,000 chips. Day two and three are where I’d like to discuss some of the truly pivotal hands that I felt swung the tournament in my direction.  

CT: Patience is such a huge part of the game, and few players seem to possess this important poker trait.

AM: I agree. I felt like my fortitude at the start of day two was challenged. I really struggled. I had aces cracked by pocket sevens all-in preflop and had lost another race with A-K suited, dwindling down to only 10 big blinds. 

I tried to reinforce to myself that if I stayed patient, I would eventually find good spots to steal/resteal and work my stack back up. I eventually found a spot with A-Q and doubled through K-Q. I finally had a little breathing room when this hand occurred.

Stacks: Arthur Morris – 740,000 (30 BB)
Maziar Monfared – 2,000,000 (80 BB)
Villain no. 2 – 250,000 (10 BB)
Blinds: 10,000-25,000 with an 25,000 big blind ante
Players Remaining: 45

Monfared raised to 50,000 from the hijack.

AM: He was one of, if not the biggest stack in the room, and had played solid. I looked down on his immediate left in the cutoff and saw pocket queens. I started this hand with nearly 30 big blinds.

Several key things happened here to help me decide on how I should act. I hadn’t seen Maziar defend a single out-of-position three-bet yet, and also both the small and big blind had excellent squeeze stacks, sitting around 10 big blinds each. Because my hand was so strong, the blinds having potential to re-steal, and Maziar’s lack of prepotency to put in big chips out-of-position for three-bets, I decided to flat call.

I wanted to play a single-raised pot in position with stronger holdings. 

Morris called from the cutoff with QDiamond Suit QSpade Suit. Villain no. 2 shoved from the small blind, and Monfared called. Morris moved all-in, and Monfared folded. Villain no. 2 revealed 5Diamond Suit 5Spade Suit.

CT: You set this up to perfection with the flat call.

Board: 10Spade Suit 7Club Suit 2Diamond Suit 2Heart Suit 3Spade Suit (pot: 850,000)

Morris won the pot with queens up.

AM: I feel confident that if I had three-bet Maziar’s open, the small blind would have folded, and Maziar likely would have as well. I would’ve picked up four big blinds in the hand, as opposed to 21. This hand shot me up to nearly 1,400,000 in chips and gave me the room to maneuver as we headed towards the final two tables. 
 
Stacks: Arthur Morris – 2,600,000 (32 BB)
Danny Griffith – 2,300,000 (29 BB)
Blinds: 40,000-80,000 with an 80,000 big blind ante
Players Remaining: 6

AM: This was a particularly interesting hand because of all the ICM implications at play at the final table. Mike Cordell had a commanding chip lead with nearly 8,000,000 chips, Jessica Vierling had 1,400,000, Blair Hinkle had 2,500,000, and Cedrric Trevino had 3,800,000. I was sitting with 2,600,000, and my opponent in the hand, Danny Griffith, had 2,300,000. 

CT: Quite the traffic jam. It was anybody’s ballgame at that point. And you have to tread carefully depending on who is on your right and left at the table.

AM: Yes. When stack sizes are this close one misstep could mean the difference between getting sixth or having a real chance at winning. Also, getting complacent could mean watching your stack dwindle to the shortest and being forced into playing a potential all-in. 

Mike was applying a ton of pressure to everyone by frequently opening in front of me on my immediate right, and Blair was an active three-bettor on my left leaving me somewhat handcuffed. I hadn’t had an opportunity to open a pot for a while as Mike often took that initiative. 

Morris raised to 175,000 holding QSpade Suit 8Spade Suit from the hijack. Griffith called from the big blind.

Flop: JClub Suit 9Spade Suit 3Diamond Suit (pot: 470,000)

Griffith checked.

CT: What was your read on Griffith?

AM: I had a read that he would aggressively check-raise flops, but not act anywhere near as aggressively to delayed turn continuation bets. I decided to check the flop. 
Morris checked.

AM: My hand can turn a lot of equity with spades, a Queen, or the gut shot straight, and being check-raised off this hand would be truly tragic. I had planned to delay a continuation bet if I bricked. 

Turn: 10Diamond Suit (pot: 470,000)

Griffith checked.

AM: I fired out a very small bet, because I thought Danny would infrequently continue here. I actually down-bet the turn to lay him a really nice price, given I was so far at the top of the range and wanted value. 

Morris bet 150,000, and Griffith called.

River: 10Spade Suit (pot: 770,000)

AM: Danny quickly grabbed a fist full of yellow 25,000 denomination chips and plopped them into the pot. I asked Danny if he knew what he had bet? Danny said no, as the dealer counted it out. Every single chip is so important at this stage of the event because of how tightly packed second- through sixth-place chips are.

Griffith bet 375,000.

CT: Could he really have a full house in this spot?

AM: I weighed my options of call versus raising. Given Danny started the hand about fifth or sixth in chips, I fully expected him to reraise preflop with hands like J-J, 10-10, 9-9, and maybe even K-Q suited combinations. I also thought Danny presumed I had none of these hands because I had checked back the flop. I also believe Danny would’ve raised turn if he had a hand like J-10, J-9, 3-3, 10-9, because of the very small bet sizing I had chosen and to just seize the initiative and get value versus the many draws. Ranges seemed relatively defined to me, and I felt Danny was capped at A-10. 

I thought about just calling because the risk of losing chips almost outweighed the value of gaining them, however, I was very confident my hand was best and decided to go for thin value.

Morris raised to 900,000.

AM: Danny was stunned. He took nearly five minutes, but ultimately folded 10-X correctly to propel me to third in chips.

Griffith folded, and Morris won the pot of 1,145,000.

Stacks: Arthur Morris – 3,400,000 (42.5 BB)
Blair Hinkle – 2,750,000 (34 BB)
Blinds: 40,000–80,000 with an 80,000 big blind ante.
Players Remaining: 4
Morris raised to 175,000 from the small blind holding KSpade Suit QSpade Suit. Hinkle reraised to 550,000 from the big blind.

AM: This was a difficult spot. I don’t believe Blair would call off with K-J or Q-J here and didn’t think I would have any dominating scenarios to rationalize a jam. I also think he wouldn’t fold any pair he chose to three-bet here, given he was already the shortest stack. My hand has reasonable playability post-flop, but I knew Blair could potentially apply a ton of pressure post-flop. That said, with Blaire’s three-bet frequency, I just felt KSpade Suit QSpade Suit was too strong. So, I…

Morris called.

Flop: QDiamond Suit 3Club Suit 3Heart Suit (pot: 1,180,000)

Morris checked, and Hinkle bet 300,000. Morris called.

Turn: 9Diamond Suit (pot: 1,780,000)

Both players checked.

AM: I had planned to check-jam the turn. The turn brought a flush draw, and backdoor straight draw. I had a very strong hand and was near the top of my own range here, so had I faced a bet I believe my only options were… A) to bluff catch – which would allow all the backdoor equities to realize their full equity, and Blair utilize his positional advantage against me. B) check-raise all-in on turn to deny equity while pushing a small amount of value.

All said, I believe Blair was very much aware of the strength of my hand and opted to check back. In my opinion, this was sharp, as he was able to realize his equity and play the river in position.

River: 5Diamond Suit (pot: 1,780,000)

AM: I had planned to play my hand as a bluff catcher. 

Morris checked, and Hinkle bet 1,750,000.

CT: That’s a big bet!

AM: I wasn’t expecting a bet anywhere near this size. I presumed if Blair had value, he would go for the higher likelihood that I’d pay off something to the tune of 500,000. Going for a bet this large felt bluff heavy. He also nearly committed himself completely all in. 

CT: What range did you put him on?

AM: He had checked back the diamond turn. I didn’t think he’d have any A-A, K-K, 9-9, A-Q, K-Q, or 3-3. When you unblock Q-X here, and have a value hand that can beat Q-X in this three-bet pot, you often want to start setting up for geometric shoving on the river by value betting the turn. Essentially, this gets clear value from the most likely hands I could continue with. 

Now that I had discounted all of these value hands and didn’t believe he would floor his variance by three-betting a hand like 5-5 preflop, (the river 5Diamond Suit), his value raise was made up almost exclusively of backdoor flushes. 

CT: So, you were teetering back and forth with call or fold?

AM: Exactly. It’s hard to give someone credit for a backdoor flush in a three-bet pot when you’re at the top of your own range. I started to examine how many chips I’d have if I called and won versus lost the pot. If I had lost, I’d be on life support. Not good.

CT: What else were you thinking about?

AM: I felt the need to look at the hand through the scope of Blair’s point of view. I defended his three-bet while out of position, and now believed Blair would think I had strong holdings exclusively. Once Blair continued on flop and I opted to continue, I think Blair likely realized I don’t have many hands worse than Q-X. Because my range was so strong, and because I believe Blair correctly had read me for strong holdings, I didn’t think Blair was bluffing with the goal of getting me to fold a queen. Once I made this conclusion, I felt like I had to… 

Morris folded, and Hinkle won the pot of 1,780,000.

AM: Blair had gone for very large value, that seemed likely I would pay off. Again, I was at the top of my own range. I was tortured, but ultimately gave Blair credit for a monster. 

A few hours later Blair would bust. He told me I had made an exceptional fold. He was value betting KDiamond Suit JDiamond Suit for the back door flush. Preserving significant blinds (20 big blind plus) and giving myself more opportunities in future pots had allowed me to survive and ultimately prevail. ♠